Caching SharePoint Data

July 17, 2012

StorageEdge lets you cache list data, BLOBs, and ASP.NET Session State to help you boost performance and scalability of SharePoint. Performance improvement comes because an in-memory cache is much faster than making expensive database trips over and over again. And, scalability comes because traffic to the database is reduced considerably and allows the database to handle more concurrent users.

Why Cache List Data?

Lists in SharePoint represent most of the structured data that the user sees. And, this list data is stored in SQL Server database. So, if you cache list data in an in-memory cache, you can access it much faster than going to the database. And, by reducing database trips, you’re no longer going to see the database becoming a scalability bottleneck when you increase the number of users. Here are some things you can do with list caching.

          • Keep list data fresh in the cache through expirations
          • Keep list data cache synchronized across all WFE servers in the farm
          • Use InProc/OutProc client cache along with a distributed cache
          • Mange all list caching from a centralized web based admin app
          • Monitor list cache activities in PerfMon

Why Cache BLOBs?

StorageEdge lets you externalize BLOBs to relieve pressure on the SQL Server database. Additionally, StorageEdge lets you cache frequently used BLOBs on WFE servers in an InProc/OutProc client cache to give your SharePoint app further boost and reduce traffic even to the external BLOB storage. This in-memory client cache is much faster than the disk based BLOB cache that SharePoint provides you. Here are some things you can do with BLOB caching.

            • Keep a subset of BLOBs in client cache on WFE servers
            • Specify max cache size and evict some BLOBs when cache is full
            • Keep BLOBs fresh by expiring them in the cache
            • Keep cache light by removing unreferenced BLOBs from cache
            • Manage all BLOB caching from a centralized web based admin app
            • Monitor BLOB cache activity in PerfMon

Why Store ASP.NET Session State in Cache?

A number of SharePoint features use ASP.NET Session state. This includes Forms Services, Project Server, and any custom applications and web parts you develop in SharePoint. However, by default, SharePoint stores Session State in SQL Server but that is not the best place to keep your sessions. Here are some reasons why you should store SharePoint Session State in a distributed cache rather than in SQL Server:

              • In-memory distributed cache much faster to access than SQL Server
              • Distributed cache replicates sessions to multiple servers
              • Add or remove cache servers at runtime without stopping the app
              • Keep cache light by removing unreferenced BLOBs from cache
              • Plug-in distributed cache storage through web.config as an SSP
              • Monitor Session State cache activity in PerfMon

Below is a diagram showing how caching fits into a typical SharePoint application. Please note that you don’t have to create a separate caching tier and can host the cache on your WFE servers. Separate caching tier is recommended (but not required) if you have 4 or more WFE servers.

SharePoint  with EBS Provider

SharePoint with EBS Provider

About Alachisoft:

Alachisoft, is located in San Francisco Bay Area, California, is a leading provider of NCache and StorageEdge. NCache is a high performance in-memory object caching solution for mission critical .NET and Java applications with real-time data access needs. While StorageEdge is an RBS provider for SharePoint and helps optimize storage and performance of SharePoint. It externalizes all BLOBs from SharePoint content database and reduces the database size by 95%.

Download Free Version of StorageEdge

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Alachisoft in TechEd America and TechEd Europe

June 7, 2012

Alachisoft has announced its participation in TechEd America and TechEd Europe to be held in Orland from June 11-14,2012 and June 22-25, 2012 in Amsterdam respectively, according to the Alachisoft Newsletter. Alachisoft will showcase two of its premier products there, NCache and StorageEdge.

Iqbal Khan, The Technology Evangelist at Alachisoft, will demonstrate to the visitors how NCache reduces expensive database trips resulting in enhanced performance and extended scalability, especially since these qualities are now considered core requirements for a reliable and efficient enterprise application.

While StorageEdge promises to strengthen your SharePoint ROI by assisting in offloading BLOBs onto cheaper storage tiers with various filtering options to help improve user experience and bandwidth. Though I’ve discussed the benefits and features of StorageEdge in detail in my earlier post, below are some of the highlights,

    – RBS Filestream provider
    – BLOB Externalization
    – Archiving to multi-Tire Storage
    – Rational Archiving for Compliance
    – File Share linker
    – Database Mirroring
    – Asynchronous BLOB Writing

Visitors will witness these remarkable features and noticed the strength of StorageEdge and NCache via live demos and presentations at the booth, apart from the brochures.

The event, hosted by Microsoft, is the leading event for business and IT professionals from all over the world. TechEd is offering most comprehensive education across Microsoft current and soon-to –be –released suites of products, solutions, tools and services. This will be the 20th Annual TechEd North America this June in Orlando and it will deliver four days of hand –on training from Microsoft experts.

Alachisoft also participated in the Last year’s TechEd which was held in Atlanta, North America. “This helped us build confidence in our customers who see us there every year and projected our growing influence and strategic place among up and coming companies. Thank you to all who were part of it and made it a success” said by CTO Iqbal Khan at the end of the last year’s event.


StorageEdge 3.4 has Released !!!

February 27, 2012

After the tremendous success of StorageEdge 3.0, Alachisoft has announced the release of new version of StorageEdge called as StorageEdge 3.4. In this post, I’ll give you a brief introduction of some of the important features which StorageEdge offers.

Just to refresh your memory, StorageEdge is used not only to enhance the storage of SharePoint but it also improves its performance and scalability. Below are the features of StorageEdge.

File Share Linker:
For compliance, StorageEdge can now store copies of BLOBs and their metadata outside the database. Users can specify the retention policies as to how long to keep the archived BLOBs and when to delete.

Rational Archiving for Compliance:
This feature was not there in the previous version. StorageEdge provides the four types of structure for saving BLOBs which are, Flat Hierarchy Auto Create Folders with limited number of files per folder, use SharePoint Folder Names and use SharePoint File Names (by adding the actual file name with its GUID)

Asynchronous BLOB Writing:
To reduce the latency while writing BLOBs to cloud storages, users can opt to asynchronously upload files. This will write BLOBs to staging devices from where they will be uploaded asynchronously to the cloud storage.

Database Mirroring:
If SharePoint content database is mirrored, StorageEge automatically starts using the failover database server if primary server is down or inaccessible. Similarly, StorageEdge BLOB store database can also be configured for SQL mirroring.

Storage Pools:
Each tier in an Externalizer and Archiver profile is associated with a storage pool which can have one or more storage devices. More devices can added to a storage pool at any time.

More Filtering Policies:
Following new filtering policies are added.
Creation Date Filters
• List Based Filters
• Modification Date Filters

Consistency Check Job
Consistency check job makes sure that the BLOB references on content database, StorageEdge configuration database and external store are consistent with each other. This inconsistency can be produced as a result of restoring SharePoint site and databases from backups.

You can read the complete feature list of StorageEdge 3.4 from Here and the edition comparison from Here.

Download your copy of StorageEdge 3.4


Use SharePoint Storage Wisely: Externalize Blobs

May 26, 2011

SQL Server is a high-performing resource manager for structured data. It provides an exceptional data management environment and an efficient SQL query engine. However, when it comes to large binary data streams, such as the ones that flow from SharePoint, it no longer remains a viable option to act as SharePoint BLOB Storage. A large proportion of content in a typical enterprise deployment of SharePoint is stored as binary data streams or BLOBs. However, SQL Server having not been designed to handle a heavy payload of unstructured data, a number of problems occur consequently.

So how to manage SharePoint Storage if SQL Server is not the right place to keep SharePoint’s unstructured data? The answer is StorageEdge. It takes care of the SharePoint storage by handling all BLOB management issues from within SharePoint; primarily it lets you use your storage options wisely, by externalizing the BLOB content out of SQL Server’s content database.


SharePoint Storage Problems and StorageEdge Solutions:

1: Large Database is unmanageable

As the database size grows, SQL Server performance degrades considerably which results in a poorly-responsive SharePoint environment. As a best practice, it is absolutely not recommended for a single SQL data file size to exceed 200 GB. Whereas your SharePoint infrastructure may have content in hundreds of GBs and it might eventually run into TBs, the content database of SharePoint no longer remains a viable option as multiple data files shall have to be created.

StorageEdge dramatically reduces database size (up to 90%) and the transaction load by externalizing the SharePoint BLOB content on SAN/NAS Storage. This frees up the database resources and as a result the SharePoint application performance improves. There are many other additional benefits that StorageEdge gives along with BLOB externalization see this .

2: Save Cost on expensive Storage

Externalizing BLOBs to an external media is the best option to consider for an optimized SharePoint storage environment. StorageEdge provides you with enterprise-grade providers for EBS and RBS to shift your BLOB content to an inexpensive storage media such as SAN, NAS, or Cloud.

Manage SharePoint Storage using StorageEdge Storage Providers

Figure 1 : Manage SharePoint Storage using StorageEdge Storage Providers

3: SQL Server Performance:

: Further, the BLOBs cannot make the best use of the indexing and querying capabilities of SQL Server because unstructured binary data does not expose itself to the rich SQL query environment. Store and retrieve operations for BLOBs are more than simple get and put. Therefore, its value as a BLOB store is limited. StorageEdge lets you manage BLOBs outside of SQL Server hence no performance bottlenecks for your SharePoint applications. Moreover, StorageEdge keeps your externalized content and content metadata in a completely synchronized state.

4: SharePoint Archiving:

In the presence of large amounts of binary data in SQL Server, backup and restore operations become tedious and too time consuming. Ideally, the primary storage should only be use for transactional content and historically large binary content should be stored in inexpensive storage media. StorageEdge lets you archive SharePoint content, based on various policies, to cheaper storage tiers and allows you to save storage costs. You can even choose Cloud as a cheapest medium for storing SharePoint archived content.

In a nutshell, externalizing BLOBs from SharePoint is not an option; rather it is a necessity for the best use of your SharePoint storage and for SharePoint deployment to perform. StorageEdge lets you achieve that with an absolute ease.


SharePoint Archiving with multi-tier storage can reduce cost

May 4, 2011

SharePoint Archiving is an attraction for SharePoint users. SharePoint is a document centric product and the number of documents grows very rapidly in medium to large size company. Even after externalizing all the documents or BLOBs, the amount of storage needed is very large and keeping all those documents in one storage location often increases the storage cost because that storage is typically very expensive high end storage.

In reality, most of these documents are not commonly accessed, especially those that become older versions of a document. Keeping such large and unnecessary content on this expensive storage is not a wise idea so you should consider moving it to cheaper storage. Regarding this problem, StorageEdge provides a SharePoint archiving solution “multi-tier storage” that allows you to keep your most recent or the latest documents in the most expensive storage and archives older content out to less expensive storage. This will help reduce your organizational cost as the most expensive storage is not overwhelmed with millions of documents.

StorageEdge does SharePoint archiving of these documents based on two criteria:
• Age
• Versioning

You can specify content age that allows your content to stay in a tier before it gets migrated to the next tier. This age can be specified separately for each storage tier and you can have as many tiers as you want.
The other criterion is based on document versioning. Whenever you update a document, SharePoint does not update the original document but instead creates a new version and save that. It preserves the older versions and when you update a document multiple times, you will end up creating many versions of it. Usually, everybody works on the latest copy of the documents so it is practical to archive the older versions to the cheaper storage tier and keep the latest version on your expensive storage tier. The subsequent tiers could be simply cheaper storage either locally in your LAN or Cloud storage. For Cloud Storage, you may want to control your bandwidth and for that StorageEdge provides bandwidth throttling feature that handles this automatically.

SharePoint archiving using StorageEdge

So by having multi-tier storage, you are able to reduce your storage cost. And, surprisingly, it also improves SharePoint performance because the most active storage (meaning your Tier-1) no longer contains all those huge amount of documents that would have overwhelmed it.


Feature of StorageEdge 3.0

April 18, 2011

In my earlier post, I’ve discussed the some of the most important features of StorageEdge introduced in 3.0 version. In this post, I’ll give you a brief introduction of all the features which StorageEdge offers.

Just to refresh your memory, StorageEdge is used not only to enhance the storage of SharePoint but it also improves its performance and scalability. Below are the features of StorageEdge.

Multi storage provider:
This is the new features introduced in this final release of StorageEdge. StorageEdge provides multiple storage providers for externalizing the BLOB contents. File system provider is the default provider for SAN and NAS storage. Apart from this Amazon, Azure and EMC Centera can also be added on demand.

Organized Externalizes BLOBs in folder structure:
This feature was not there in the previous version. StorageEdge provides the four types of structure for saving BLOBs which are, Flat Hierarchy Auto Create Folders with limited number of files per folder, use SharePoint Folder Names and use SharePoint File Names (by adding the actual file name with its GUID)

Advance BLOB filter:
This is also the new feature of this release. StorageEdge now provides advance filters for BLOBS transfer which helps in sorting BLOBS. It based upon: File size, File name or Extension and File author.

Tiered Storage:
BLOB externalization is a wonder option to improves its performance and scalability of the app. StorageEdge can externalized BLOBs in multiple tiers.

EBS Scope:
This feature is also introduced for the first time in this release. StorageEdge gives you the facility to configure EBS for a ‘Site Collection’ as well as for a ‘Web Application’.

RBS Job independence:
Instead of relying on ‘SharePoint API’ now we have our own jobs for RBS:
RBS Migrate Job
• RBS Revert Job

Bandwidth Throttling for all types of Jobs:
StorageEdge now offers you to configure Job Throttling for various jobs like:
Migration jobs throttling
• Revert jobs throttling
• Garbage Clean job throttling (only for EBS, because we are not providing the ‘Clean’ job for RBS)
• Blob Transfer job throttling
• EBS to RBS conversion throttling

Jobs Monitoring
This feature provides you the facility to monitor the SharePoint Timer Jobs that are scheduled for any process.

Low Disk Notification
With this feature of StorageEdge3.0, you can receive notifications for low disk otherwise the BLOBs will not be externalized when available space becomes zero.

EBS to RBS Conversion
StorageEdge provides you the facility to convert External BLOB Storage to Remote BLOB Storage without copying BLOBs which results in efficient memory consumption.

Doc Importer Tool
Doc Importer allows you to migrate data and documents from multiple locations to SharePoint libraries 2007/2010. .

Image Combining (Dynamic CSS Sprites)
SharePoint 2007 includes the image combining feature that helps improve your application performance. StorageEdge 2.0 is able to dynamically generate CSS sprites to further reduce HTTP round trips between the client and web browser, giving you even better performance.


StorageEdge 3.0 released

April 13, 2011

After the tremendous success of StorageEdge 2.0, Alachisoft has released StorageEdge 3.0. StorageEdge speeds up SharePoint by optimizing its BLOB storage, reducing load on the content database, and caching lists and BLOBs. The new exciting features will help you optimize and manage your storage.

In this release, the StorageEdge contains new features like:

• Multiple Storage Providers
• Advance BLOBS Filters
• Tiered Storage
• EBS to RBS Conversion
• Organized Externalized BLOBs in Folder Structure
• Job Monitoring
• Upgrading SharePoint versions without reverting BLOBS and much more

Iqbal Khan, President & Technology Evangelist at Alachisoft, has termed this release as a “major success”. “I am very happy on StorageEdge 3.0 release and also confident that it will progress the way people use SharePoint today. Like other versions, StorageEdge 3.0 will also win hearts of many SharePoint users. The new release will further build customers’ confidence in StorageEdge.” said Iqbal Khan while commenting on StorageEdge 3.0 release.

StorageEdge has three editions each with a different feature set meant for distinct market segments.

Express Edition: It has a FREE Express edition with basic features for startups and small offices using Windows SharePoint Services (WSS).

Standard Edition: Standard edition works with WSS and MOSS Standard and come with a free 60 day trial period.

Enterprise Editions: Enterprise edition works with WSS and MOSS Standard & Enterprise. Its 60 days free trail version is also available.

Please download your copy of StorageEdge 3.0
Click here to view whats new in StorageEdge
Read more about StorageEdge 3.0

About Alachisoft

Alachisoft, a California based company, designs, develops, and markets NCache, StorageEdge and TierDeveloper for .NET. NCache, a clustered object and session cache for .NET, allows customers to boost performance of their applications by as much as 10 times. StorageEdge boosts SharePoint by optimizing its BLOB storage, reducing load on the content database, and caching lists and BLOBs. TierDeveloper, an object to relational (O/R) mapping code generator for .NET, cuts down development time by 50%. Visit our website at www.alachisoft.com or send us an email at sales@alachisoft.com


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